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How much of Christianity can be ahistorical?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Integral, Sep 30, 2011.

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  1. Integral

    Integral Can't you hear it?

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    I'm shamelessly ripping this from a blog I read. I'd love to get reactions from both fundamentalist and mainline Christians. :)

    source

    Personally, I'm not committed to the literal historicity of the first, say, 11 chapters of Genesis; they read an awful lot like other Ancient Near Eastern creation myths. And I think one can still be a Christian and not affirm the literal historicity of the events in those stories.

    I'm pretty committed to the story of Jesus - virgin birth, death, resurrection, ascension - and I am confident that those are necessary conditions for Christianity. But are they sufficient? I'm not sure.
     
  2. Dreadnought

    Dreadnought Deity

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    I tend to believe that the earliest parts of the Old Testament are stories, while the later parts' events are, for the most part, historical.

    With the New Testament, I believe the events in it are historical, to the degree that human nature allows. The religious aspects of the Old and New Testament are the foundation of the religion, though.
     
  3. asbestos

    asbestos Prince

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    Even the story of Jesus has striking similarities to other deities that were floating around at the time and before.

    I frankly don't even understand why adhering to a unique religious dogma is such an important precondition at all. If I were religious, I'd sooner respect the "obvious forgeries" within my religion as a means to lend it an aura of universality and timelessness. (But whatever floats your boat, :))
     
  4. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    The capacity of believers for self-deception is unlimited. Even if tomorrow someone managed to refute with 100% certainty everything that's in the Bible, do you think people would stop believing it? Nah, that would be the rational thing to do, and religion generally isn't big on that.

    Essentially, what you're doing is cherry picking and intellectual dishonesty of the highest order.
     
  5. Theov

    Theov Deity

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    It also has many striking similarities with wrestling.
    They know it's fake, we know it's fake. We know they know it's fake. They know we know it's fake.
     
  6. Terxpahseyton

    Terxpahseyton Awake

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    People, you are right, partially at least, but to shame-storm this thread like that is rubbish behavior.
     
  7. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    I don't know how to show any of the New Testimate as true or false based on history, archeology, or any other science. The Old seems to have more claims that can accepted or refuted with science. And the more it gets refuted, the better I feel about it.
     
  8. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    I'm pretty sure those are the minimum requirement to be a Christian.

    I'd also like to ask, additionally if you don't mind, whether it matters if what Jesus is claimed to have said is recorded in the exact same words he said it, or does it allow for editorial tweaks as long as the message was right.
     
  9. Lillefix

    Lillefix I'm serious. You can.

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    Ziggy, I think you forgot to link to "Bible's Buried Secrets" from BBC. In any case, I've even heard of clergy who doubt the virgin birth. Perhaps they can afford to doubt it, since the whole thing may very well be a translation error.
     
  10. _random_

    _random_ Jewel Runner

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    I think there's a significant overemphasis by some parties on the historicity of the Bible. When reading it, our primary emphasis shouldn't be on what we can learn about history, but what we can learn about God and ourselves. Now, there are some points where what we can learn about God and ourselves is directly related to some historical event, the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ being the most prominent examples. Those aside, I'd willingly admit that much of the Bible is mythical or that the historical parts aren't described with total accuracy, and that it doesn't really matter.
     
  11. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I think the minimum requirement is "Tell people that you're a Christian". I mean, it's not like anyone's checking who believes what and taking away your Christian credentials if you believe the wrong things.

    It seems like this question is going to be answered differently by each individual Christian.. in a way.. You'll have lots of overlap, of course, but in the end there is no ultimate authority on who's a Christian and who isn't, and what "Christian" means anyway and which beliefs come with it.

    The only way to answer this question is to look at the official stance of each individual Christian denomination and see what their members are *supposed to* believe. I think each Church has guidelines on this sort of thing, yes?

    For example, Catholics aren't supposed to believe that Genesis is literal, because the official position of the Catholic Church and the Vatican is that the Earth has been around for a couple billion years and that the theory of evolution explains the diversity of life on this planet. Of course not every catholic believes such a thing, but that's what they're supposed to believe, assuming that the source of the edict is legitimate, which in this case it seems to be (it's the Pope, he's part Jesus, etc.)

    So it's a complicated question, really. You've got to break it down by denomination, and then in each denomination you'll have people believing different things, even if there's official edicts (or whatever) on what you're supposed to believe.

    edit: I think this is also why the guy in the original blog asks people for their own personal feelings on it.. because there will be a variety of different answers, for different reasons.
     
  12. Theige

    Theige American Baron

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    I actually believe that part of the downfall of Christianity has been its failure to allow both the old and new testament to be largely treated as ahistorical.
     
  13. civ_king

    civ_king Deus Caritas Est

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    Not everything the Pope says is infallible and when he agreed with the theory of evolution he wasn't speaking infallibly. Hypothetically a Catholic could be a YEC without being a heretic. The Pope is not part Jesus.
     
  14. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    The pope's position on Genesis and the Theory of Evolution is not the church's position as well?
     
  15. Leoreth

    Leoreth 心の怪盗団 Moderator

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    Yeah. I think the best parts of the Bible are those that don't depend on supernatural events, such as the sermon on the mount. But this is only an areligious person speaking, after all.
     
  16. Arakhor

    Arakhor Dremora Courtier Moderator

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    When the Pope is not speaking ex cathedra, he is speaking "merely" as an experienced and influential Catholic theologian.

    As for me, it doesn't really matter whether anything in the Bible, including Jesus' virgin birth, is actually true or not - it's the message that he preached and that his followers circulated that is far more important than any amount of words written centuries ago.
     
  17. MagisterCultuum

    MagisterCultuum Great Sage

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    I seem to recall reading that the Catholic Church's position is that Young Earth Creationism is a "pious belief" which individual Catholics are free to accept or reject. There is no dogma on the matter and most priests do not accept it, but the church has no problem with those who do accept it personally.
     
  18. civ_king

    civ_king Deus Caritas Est

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    It is, but Catholics aren't required to believe it
    "pious belief"?
     
  19. Tarquelne

    Tarquelne Follower of Tytalus

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    It can all be ahistorical, and it wouldn't matter.

    Granting that the essential lessons of Christianity are true:

    Before the events of the Bible happened those lessons were true. God was still Love, for example, even if it was before he hardened the Pharoh's heart, participated in the torment of Job, etc. etc.

    So whether or not the events had happened yet doesn't matter.

    And can we remove the "yet"? Why not: Even if the events in the Bible are all "merely" stories - the essentials of Chistianity can still be true. They're supposed to be part of a universal plan, not the results of historical happenstance. Maybe Jesus wasn't really named Jesus. Maybe Jesus was really born 100 years earlier than the Bible claims. Or 100000. Or 10000 later. Or never. God's omnipotent - He doesn't have to do anything He doesn't want. People respond well to stories as teaching, and how better to hide the hand of the supernatural than to falsify the history?

    Given Biblical ahistorical-ness either God lied, or people are silly. Or both! Take your pick.

    Edit: Good time to add my usual sig. to this forum's sig.
     
  20. Elrohir

    Elrohir RELATIONAL VALORIZATION

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    I think in order to meaningfully be called a Christian you need to believe that there was a man that we call Jesus Christ who was the Son of God and was not conceived from a man, was executed, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven with a promise of some sort of eventual return.

    Not that there's not more that I think you should believe. But if you, say, believe that Jesus never rose from the dead, or ran away to the Sudan and died of cancer at 62, then I think you're talking about an entirely different figure and religion entirely. (Also, please note that I'm talking about historical facts. I think you also need to hold some sort of belief or expressed desire for salvation, too.)

    No, and he's not "part Jesus" either.
     
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